Still a bitter slice of life

A Taste of Honey

Malvern Theatres

***

TIMES have moved on since this kitchen sink drama was created by Shelagh Delaney in the 1950s, so it doesn't have the controversial impact that it once had.

Single mothers, gay men and inter-racial love affairs are all part of the status quo now, so there is no way this play could have been updated into the modern era without the script seeming odd.

What director Mark Babych has done instead is to revisit this classic play but keep it firmly in the era it was written in.

There's the welcome addition of musical interludes between scenes, sung by the talented males in the small cast, and there is some fine acting, particularly by Julie Riley as the self-centred unreliable mother Helen.

Taking on the role of teenage mother-to-be Jo is Rebecca Ryan. She is more well known for playing a sulky, mouthy teenager in Channel 4 show Shameless. This time she's playing a sulky, mouthy teenager made famous by Rita Tushingham in the 1961 film of this play.

Ryan is perfect for the role as a tough young woman abandoned by everyone around her, including the Black sailor with whom she became pregnant and her flighty mother.

Brought to stage by the Hull Truck Theatre and Derby Theatre, it's heartbreaking, grim stuff and a soap opera of family and love betrayals.

Rather than action, it's centred around the arguments and relationships.

And although some taboos are no longer relevant, some things from this window into life on the breadline in the 1950s have stood the test of time - like child poverty and destructive family relationships. It's interesting viewing if just from that perspective. To  21-06-14

Alison Brinkworth 

17-06-14 

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